Hugh Steers, ‘Futon Couch’, 1991, Porch Gallery

About Hugh Steers

Hugh Steers’s figurative paintings explore identity politics, eroticism, and the despair wrought by the AIDS crisis in America’s gay community in the ’80s and ’90s, as well as the resilience and compassion it engendered. In his early work, Steers painted allegorical scenes that explored psychological self-discovery; the artist later turned to subjects of queer identity and AIDS, depicting male couples in domestic settings and hospitals, tenderly helping each other dress or bathe. Steers’s compositions typically feature skewed perspectives, dramatic color palettes, and a masterful use of light. “I think I’m in the tradition of a certain kind of American artist—artists whose work embodies a certain gorgeous bleakness. Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline,” he once said. Thomas Eakins and Paul Cadmus, as well as Hopper, influenced Steers’s work. His own life was tragically cut short by AIDS at the age of 32.

American, 1963-1995